I operate under a sort of plausible deniability when it comes to lyrics, especially in regards to hardcore music. They’ve never been a very important aspect of music for me, but if they’re bad or cringe-inducing they can quickly ruin the whole package. So usually, if I can’t hear or understand what the vocalist is singing, I don’t make an effort to find out. But Great Reversals vocalist Aaron Whitfield’s passionate bellows are always completely intelligible on Stalactite, a discovery that made me wary…until I realized how great his words are. Abstract imagery and introspective angst have equal footing, exemplified in the final line of the titular centerpiece: “Meet me between two unseens, I need to know I have value in your eyes.” Whitfield often leads the charge, but none of it would work without the meaty, dense riffs, filled with plenty of palm-muted thrashing and harmonizing leads, and the dizzying drum work of Eric Scobie, whose mastery of the bass and toms manifests in the textural paintings of “The Rattlesnake King,” arrestingly sparse breakdowns, and galloping d-beats. Stalactite is a safe but refreshing take on NY and metalcore influenced hardcore, with none of the shortcomings that often plague those styles.